The Granny Lesson

My mom and dad have seven grandchildren. Three live in the US and four live in Ireland. The ones who live in the US live relatively close to my parents so they see each other often. The grandkids in Ireland, however, don’t have the benefit of being with my parents much. But, that hasn’t affected their relationship. The kids Skype with my parents on a weekly basis so that they can see and speak with each other. It’s as good as living down the street.

One of the last times my mom went to Ireland, my youngest nephew, who was three at the time, saw her in the airport and went running up to her and gave her a huge hug. He knew who she was and was thrilled to know that his granny was going to spoil him for the next week or so.

I have channel partners all over the Americas. We email often and have good, productive, email exchanges. However, it’s the phone calls and in person meetings that are the best. We can relate to each other and there’s something about sitting in a room with someone and hearing their voice that changes a relationship. Words written in an email can be taken so many different ways so if you don’t have an established relationship, then words can easily be taken the wrong way. When you sit face to face or hear a voice over the phone, you can get the tone of the voice and can really get a better understanding of what the person with whom you’re speaking, really means.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have built strong relationships with my channel partners over the phone, and of course email, that when we meet face to face, it’s like we’ve know each other for years, understand each other and give each other hugs. (For the record, I don’t suggest hugging people you don’t have a relationship with and if you’re unsure about it. A smile and handshake will work just as well.)

My challenge to you,  get out of the email rut, stop texting, walk over to someone’s desk, pick up the phone or hop on a plane and meet someone face to face. The bond that you build can be as strong as my nephew’s and my mom’s.

How to measure success

When I was in fourth grade I got an “A” in history class. Later in life I successfully graduated from college (not by much but I graduated – hee hee). Years later I completed a triathlon in the time I had wanted to. I constantly set goals for myself – both personally and professionally – and reevaluate what I’ve been doing when I do or don’t meet that goal. Companies aren’t much different than us as individuals. Companies rely on success.

How do you measure success with a customer reference program? You can measure in different ways, but the key thing is to clearly mark out what success will be for your program and let that set the standard – is it brand recognition or revenue generating or a combination of both?

So you got a customer into the New York Times, but is that success? Can it directly tie into a sale? That might be difficult to measure, unless of course the Sales person put into your CRM tool that the reason the customer called was because of the article. Chances are probably pretty slim that that’ll happen. Based on a revenue generating “success” this one probably won’t fit the bill. For brand recognition, it’ll be huge.

For Marketing references I suggest setting a number of goals such as number of customer press releases announced, number of case studies distributed, number of customers highlighted in articles, types of customer references you want highlighted (specific products, verticals, campaigns supported by press releases/case studies). Success on the Marketing side will generally be much more brand recognition than revenue.

Tracking what references were given to Sales people for prospects at the end of the quarter and year is critical for the revenue generating success factor. If you can say at the end of the year that references you provided were influential in $15 million worth of revenue then your success has been measured. I do this by logging all sales requests along with who the prospect is, what references were given, time it took to give the references and other basic information such as what specifically the Sales person was looking for (ie particular vertical, specific products, specific competitor replacement…)

By creating a form and logging this information, I can then go back at the end of the year and say in January I provided 10 references to Sales that led to $250K in sales and 90% of the requests came from APAC. In October, that number grew to 50 references and led to $4M in sales with 50% from APAC. I can also break it down by region and types of references. This helps me justify the program and let’s me show (and not just tell) in a graphical way the increase/decrease of requests, how long it takes to get an answer to the sales person, how much money is being brought in and the like.

No matter how you run your program, make sure you have a way of measuring success. If you can’t say you were successful (not that you weren’t) then I think you’re in prime picking to have your program cut. And once you were successful, let everyone know!